Cheap Trick's seemingly mythical 1987 Fargo show

MOORHEAD -- While Cheap Trick hasn't played the metro area in 13 years, the group is no stranger here. When the Rock & Roll Hall of Famers play Bluestem Amphitheater on Thursday night, it will be the group's seventh show in the Fargo-Moorhead...
Maurice Skogen welcomes Robin Zander to the stage at Jerry's Bar in Moorhead after Cheap Trick played the Fargo Civic Center in 1987. Special to The Forum

MOORHEAD - While Cheap Trick hasn't played the metro area in 13 years, the group is no stranger here. When the Rock & Roll Hall of Famers play Bluestem Amphitheater on Thursday night, it will be the group's seventh show in the Fargo-Moorhead area dating all the way back to 1980.

The group is often credited with tight, energetic live shows - despite 18 studio albums, it's best-known disc is the iconic live "Cheap Trick at Budokan" - and one of the most infamous to F-M fans was 1987's stop at the Fargo Civic Auditorium.

The show could be legendary for what happened on stage, but what happened pre- and post-show is what makes it so significant for those who were there. For everyone else, the event became something of a myth.


The band was in an odd place as its most recent album at the time, 1986's "The Doctor," failed to produce a hit and the group's resurgence with "The Flame" was still a year away. Tickets were inexpensive - I remember $9.98 - prompting rumors that the band's bus broke down and they needed cash to fix it.

There were reported sightings of the band after the concert, jamming with a local band. No, others said, they hung out at a restaurant all night.

I posted a query on Facebook asking what people remembered about the show. Memories were fuzzy for some but clear for others.

Tapio Haku, fan: I was there. I think the tickets were actually cheaper, like 98 cents for the first batch, then going up to $1.98 for the remainder. This was right before their late 1980s resurgence. The Civic was packed that night. I remember Rick Nielsen changing guitars for every song and flicking picks out to the audience.

Jeff Hagen, fan: I was there for $1.98. The rumor I heard at the time was the band needed money for the bus or gas or both. Great show. I've seen them many times since and they get better and better.

Lee Schwartz, fan: It was my first concert (national band) ever. Tickets were 98 cents thanks to "Q98...Always Rockin' With You."

Jim Heilman, fan: I got hired as a roadie for the day for $50 and admission. Instead of setting up, I drove a couple guys around town to pick up things, including getting photos developed that were taken inside the bus the prior night. They were some interesting pictures. I remember some were deemed "unprintable" by the 60-minute photo mart.

Monte Hoffman, fan and former Fuddruckers employee: It was actually two different shows. They played the Civic and the first 100 tickets were 98 cents and the second were $1.98. After that, they were $9.98. A few years later, they played at the Red River Valley Fair. After the show they came to Fuddruckers after-hours to eat. After they ate, they bought all the beer and Cheap Trick and a lot of their crew and many of us employees played miniature golf - Fuddputters - until the wee hours of the morning. Somewhere I have all of their autographs on Fuddruckers order slips and a ticket stub from the 98 cent show.

Keith Johs, guitarist and former Marguerite's Music employee: I want to say Robin (Zander, singer/guitarist) and Tom (Petersson, bassist) ended up at the 4-10 after the show and hung out a bit. I was working at Marguerite's and I do remember hearing stories of local guys hanging with them after the show, talking gear, scoring them weed... you know, '87. The show was last-minute, I remember that, and I won tickets by calling in to Q98. Got there late and CT was into their set already.

Jon Nyborg, guitarist for The Newz: The Newz opened for them in '80 on "The Dream Police" tour both at the fairgrounds and Bismarck, and again in '87 at the Fargo Civic. Great guys to work and hang with.

Tom Tepley, owner of Disc & Tape Masters, which promoted the show: It was a Disc & Tape concert for our grand opening. The first 1,000 tickets were 98 cents, the second 1,000 $1.98, the third thousand $2.98. At the door $9.98. Q98 were radio sponsors... They didn't need the money, they liked the idea.

Pete Johnson, fan: Here are the facts. March 1, 1987. Fargo Civic Center. The Newz opened. It was on a Sunday night. After the concert, Robin Zander and Jon Brandt, bassist 1980 through late 1987, were the only band members to go to Jerry's Bar in north Moorhead. I saw Robin walk in the door and went over and invited him to sit with me and my bandmate Steve Flannery, and he did. We bought a round of Cuervos and a couple beers and just me, Steve and Robin sat there in a booth and talked about the cover music we were playing at the time and Robin told us he was worried about the future of Cheap Trick at the time because records weren't selling as well. I couldn't believe he was telling us all this stuff and not visiting with all the local girls who slowly realized who was at our table! The band at Jerry's that night was local guy Maurice Skogen and crew, and they invited Robin and Jon up to play some songs with them. They played for about 45 minutes and did long medleys of Stones, Beatles and Animals. They tried to play Cheap Trick's "Clock Strikes Ten" but the band didn't know it well enough and Robin stopped the song after the first chorus. That's how it all went down and it was a great experience. I asked Robin years later if he remembered doing that and sitting with us BS'ing and he said that he totally did.

Maurice Skogen, musician: I was playing at Jerry's Bar in north Moorhead that night and look who walked in the bar and hopped up onstage with my band. Crazy night!

If you go

What: Cheap Trick and The Romantics

When: Music starts at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30

Where: Bluestem Amphitheater, 801 50th Ave. S., Moorhead

Info: Tickets range from $35 to $75; or 866-300-8300.